I was born […] Lanao del Norte, Philippines. Since birth, my parents were devoted Seventh Day Adventists, one of the thousand branches in Christendom. I was a former Evangelist of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA). From childhood until I became Muslim in 1981, I had been a devoted SDA.
[…] My father was a former member of the ILAGA and CHDF (Civilian Home Defense Force) formed by a former dictator, President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos. The Ilonggo Land Grabbing Association (ILAGA) is the name given to a cultic group of Christians who are trained to grab Muslim lands and annihilate Muslims in Southern Philippines. […] The ILAGA members believe that the more Muslims they kill, the more power they will possess.
[…] In childhood I was indoctrinated (brainwashed) that Muslims are pagans. We believed that Muslims are warlike people, traitors, happy to kill non-Muslims, lawless, and all negative attributes of humanity are in the Muslims’ doctrines. Actually, when I was a Christian, I did not know the difference between Islam, Muslim, and Moros—I believed they were all synonymous with paganism. What I knew about Muslims was that "they were pagans and idiots!"'
[…] I was brought up in a conservative Christian educational institution (church school). In my early days of childhood, we were trained to open the Bible quickly and explain the meaning of the text day and night. […]
In 1981, I was trained extensively in Pagadian City, Philippines how to preach Christianity, particularly in the Muslim community, and with the pretext of selling medical books under the banner of Adventism. We were later formed into groups and were assigned in Zamboanga City, Southern Philippines to conduct house-to-house and office-to-office evangelism.
Our main targets were to raise funds and to spread our doctrines and convert the Muslims to Christianity (Adventism). Even today there are Christian Institutions in the heart of the Muslim community in Mindanao whose main motive is to gradually Christianize the Muslims.
One day in Zamboanga City, I was assigned to the Al-Malin Shipping Line Office, district of Santa Barbara, to do our jobs. That is where I had my first encounter with a Muslim intellectual. His name is Najeeb Razul Fernandez, formerly Samuel Fernandez, who was also a former Seventh Day Adventist-Evangelist.
We discovered later that we were neighbors during our childhood, and our parents and his uncle’s family (Memong Fernandez) were close friends and neighbors.
I introduced myself to Mr. Najeeb Razul Fernandez. He warmly welcomed me and asked my purpose of visiting his office. He was a liaison officer that time at Al-Malin Shipping Line Office. He asked me, “Are you Seventh Day Adventist?”
“Yes, of course!”
“Do you believe in Jesus Christ?”
“Of course! We would not be a Seventh Day Adventist unless we believe and follow Jesus Christ!”
He continued, “Your religion is Seventh Day Adventist, was Jesus Christ a Seventh Day Adventist?”
I knew that if I answer “yes,” the next question would be; “Can you show me in your Bible that Jesus Christ was a Seventh Day Adventist?” I knew well that there is no passage in the Bible that mentions that Jesus Christ was an Adventist! I was shocked at the question because in my experience I never encountered such a question in my life.
I tried my best to ignore his question, and I talked about things which were not related to his question. He repeated the question directly to my eyes, and said; “If you could not answer that question, please bring that question to your team leader and tell me his response.”
Then he related to me the true name and life of Jesus Christ, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, whose name is Issa Al-Maseeh ibn Maryam in the Muslim world. Jesus was a prophet and messenger of God.
The religion of the Muslims and the prophets of Allah is Islam. And in fact, the prophets of Allah (God) were Muslims. He also emphasized that Islam teaches about the Day of Resurrection, Judgment Day, Paradise, Hell-Fire, Angels, Prophethood, Morals, Divine Books, etc.
All these words were like thunderbolts that awakened me from a deep sleep! After I heard those words, I did convey them to my team leader, and I asked him what the religion of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus Christ was. He did not answer; instead, I received a warning not to talk to Mr. Fernandez, or I will be excommunicated. My team leader’s reaction had pushed me to investigate what Islam is all about. It also sowed doubts about my belief being a Seventh Day Adventist.
If indeed my belief is the truth, I am not supposed to be afraid to deal with other religions! [End of part I]
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My name is Yahya Schroder. I am a “European” Muslim. I became Muslim […] when I was 17. I am living now in Potsdam, Germany […].
As a convert to Islam, I think it’s much easier to follow the deen (religion) than a born Muslim who is been raised up here. […]
I grew up in a little village. I lived with my mother and my stepfather in a huge house with a big garden and a big pool. And as a teenager I “lived a cool life;” I had some friends whom I used to hang around with, do stupid things and drink alcohol like every young German teen.
The life of a Muslim in Germany is quite difficult than one would think especially for me as a German Muslim because when someone asks a German what they know about Islam; they would tell you something about Arabs. For them it’s like mathematical operation, Islam = Arabs.
[…] When I lived with my mother and my stepfather I had everything; a big house, my own money, TV, Play-station. I was never concerned about money, but I wasn’t happy. I was searching for something else.
When I turned 16 I met the Muslim community in Potsdam through my biological father who became Muslim in 2001. I used to visit my father once a month and we used to attend the meetings of the community which were held on Sundays.
[…] I started visiting the community every month and learned a lot about Islam but at that time something happened and changed my way of thinking. One Sunday, I went with the Muslim community swimming and I broke my back twice by jumping in the pool and I hit the ground with my head.
My father brought me to the hospital and the doctor told me:
“You have broken your back quite bad and if you did one wrong movement you’ll become handicapped.”
This didn’t help me much, but then just a few moments before they bought me to the operation room. One of my friends of the Muslims community, told me something. “Yahya, you are now in the hands of Allah (God), it’s like a rollercoaster. Now you are on the top enjoy the ride and just trust in God.” This really helped me.
The operation took five hours and I woke up after 3 days. I couldn’t move my right arm but I was feeling like the happiest person on this earth. I told the doctor that I don’t care about my right arm I’m so happy that God has let me survive.
[…] Now, I can move my right arm again and I was just two weeks there Al-hamdu lillah (thanks God). This accident changed a lot in my personality.
I noticed when God wants something; the individual’s life can be turned over in one second. So, I took life more seriously and started thinking more about my life and Islam […].
I moved to my father’s apartment which is rather small and I had to stay in the kitchen but it was okay because I had nothing just a very few clothes, school books, and some CDs.
It must sound for you like I lost everything but I am very happy, I’m as happy as when I woke up in the hospital after the dreadful accident. […]
I think this is usual because of what they learned from the media. “A terrorist,” “Osama bin Laden is coming,” “Muslims are dirty,” some people thought I am just a crazy guy. And they even didn’t believe me that I am German.
[…] My classmates changed from making jokes to asking serious questions about Islam and they noticed that Islam is not a religion like the others. They noticed Islam is cool!
[…] The special thing on this is that they respect me as a Muslim and even more, they get Halal (Lawful) food especially for me and they have organized two barbecue grills one for them and one for us Muslims! The people here are very open to Islam.
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As far back as I can remember as a child, I was always astounded by this universe in which we live […]. And from that early time, I always in some way knew, there just had to be a Creator responsible for all this.
But then as I segued into my teens, it was much easier to succumb to peer pressure, and I lost interest in the Divine and instead devoted my time to alcohol, sex and the immature games of a young male growing up in America. Growing into young adulthood, my obsessions became money, power, a better house, a faster car, and a prettier woman--all shallow pursuits.
I lived this way for many years, slowly losing control of my life, thinking I was pursuing happiness when all I was getting was more depressed, more confused, and making more and more of a mess of my life.
[…] My immediate response was to turn to God, and, having been raised Catholic, it was to that church that I turned. At the time, I had been divorced and remarried and came to find out that the Catholic Church didn't want me. Hurt and angry, but also realizing a need for a spiritual order in my life, I turned to Buddhism.
The Buddhist sect I became involved with followed a Tibetan tradition, where importance is placed on gaining empowerments, which are basically blessings from various Buddhas. At some point I realized I was not really bettering myself […]. All of a sudden, I realized that one of the last things the Buddha said before passing away was not to worship him. I realized this whole practice was BASED on worshipping not only "the" Buddha, but also all these other Buddhas. I became very discouraged and reverted to my old ways of indulgence in alcohol and other forbidden pleasures. And once again, I became very depressed […].
When I was a young man, I was very much "into" the music of Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam). When I heard he had embraced Islam, I was in the U.S. Navy at the time and this was during the "hostage crisis" in Iran. So, I immediately drew the conclusion that Cat Stevens has become a terrorist, and I kept that belief for many years.
A couple months or so ago, I heard he was going to be interviewed on TV, and I wanted to hear about this crazy man who had left a great life to become a terrorist. Well, needless to say, I was just floored by the interview, because he was certainly no terrorist, but a soft-spoken, articulate, peaceful man who radiated love, and patience, and intelligence. The very next day, I began researching Islam on the Internet. [...] It all made so much SENSE, the existence of God was so SIMPLE to understand! […]
Well, the more I learned the more I was convinced that this was truly the path I had been searching for. It contained the discipline--physical, mental, and spiritual--that leads to true peace and happiness. […]. Pronouncing my Shahadatainwas such a CLEANSING experience, and since this time, I have often just … cried and cried and cried. How wonderful!
I have received such a warm and embracing welcome from all Muslim brothers and sisters from around the world; I take great comfort in this, knowing that, despite any adversity or setback, I am literally surrounded by my Muslim family that will never abandon me as long as I remain Muslim. No other group of people has ever treated me in this way.
[…] Accepting the reality of Islam is the easy part, walking the Straight Path is the hard part, especially once one had firmly implanted himself in a society of unbelievers. But I pray to God every day for strength and guidance, and I just take it one day at a time, trying to improve in Islam little by little each day.
By Dawood Kinney
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